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It’s Go Time! How to Prepare Your Team for The Challenges Ahead

to illustrate the concept of coaching
How can you coach your ‘team’ through the season?

October means baseball playoffs and the World Series. Of course this year is unlike any other when it comes to the playoffs, and the same is true for your business.

For many businesses, Q4 is “Go Time” — A make or break season for your company’s sales figures, traffic and overall bottom line. It’s time to step up, face the challenges and battles ahead so you can make it through and ideally emerge victorious when all is said and done.

How do you energize and prepare your team for this competitive time of year in a year with so much out of the ordinary? Previous plans and strategies to maximize sales or customer engagement are likely out the window due to COVID restrictions and local regulations.

Below are 7 ideas you can implement in your business to help your team gear up for your own ‘playoff’ season leading into the last quarter of the year:

1. Pause and refresh Your team has probably been working at a breakneck speed these past 6 months, adapting to ever-changing rules and situations. Many employees are likely overworked and exhausted. Before heading into the home stretch of the year, look for ways to recharge everyone (including yourself!) If possible, examine offering bonus day(s) off on a rotating basis to allow employees time to rest and catch up with family. If local salons/spas are open in your area, consider gift certificates for pampering or de-stressing treatments.

One good option that could work well is to rent a mobile chair massage service where employees can receive a refreshing 15-minute neck and shoulder massage without even leaving their office. Tension is frequently stored in these high-use parts of the body and even a short break to release some tightness can be a great benefit.

2. Focus on team dynamics Although your employees may be spending more time apart because of social distancing requirements, it’s important to bolster that team chemistry whenever possible. If you are unable to host some sort of group team building activity, look at ways to maybe bring smaller groups or rotate parts of your staff to off-site, safe activities like an outdoor athletic class or open-air dining to allow some team building outside of the office.

3. Take it step by stepYou don’t immediately go from the end of the baseball season to the World Series; several playoff rounds must be completed along the way. Coaches often impress upon their players that while it is important to see the eventual goal, it’s essential to focus on the challenge immediately in front of you. If your team needs to turnover an entire warehouse of merchandise or restock multiple locations across your whole network for holiday sales, try to have them focus on one (smaller) step at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

4. Use your assistant coaches Any great coach knows that to stay on top of everything happening with the team, it’s important to utilize the expertise and insight from your staff. You can’t know everything about offense, defense, strategy, etc. — So don’t try to! You have put qualified assistants in place in the form of VPs, team leaders, managers or group directors. Gather intel from those individuals about what’s happening across your organization; additionally, use these assistants as a way to filter key information or motivation down the line as well. A shift manager probably has a better day-to-day rapport with individual workers than you might, so use that strength to build camaraderie.

5. Take advantage of assistance No coach leads a team without other kinds of help (trainers, support staff, boosters, etc). Follow this model in your own business as you are gearing up for the challenges ahead — If you need to hire support staff on a temp basis to help manage big events or specifically busy weeks, plan to do so now. Look at ways to use your ‘booster’ club (i.e. friends and families of employees) to boost support of social media campaigns or activations.

6. Help your employees keep it simple For years, multiple winning coaches have followed the “Keep It Simple, Stupid” (KISS) model when it comes to strategy for a big game or tournament. Use the same mantra in your company. With so many moving parts flying around right now, it’s easy to get bogged down in details that may overwhelm employees. Encourage them to focus on ways to streamline and keep their job simple during this stressful time.

7. Lighten the load A baseball coach might look for ways to lessen overall pressure on their players during the playoffs, such as limiting required practice time and lightening up workouts to allow muscles to rest and heal for maximum performance. Follow this lead — If you previously had required detailed quarterly reporting that bogged down work schedules, let your employees know it’s OK to skip them this year and focus solely on the simple things they need to do to succeed. Removing barricades to focus will help everyone achieve the desired bottom line a lot easier!